Mike Nesbitt: How To Be Visible

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When I was in my early teens at St Columb’s College in Derry, we read a book called The Invisible Man. It was by H G Wells, I think,  and it told the story of a man who discovers the magic of being unseen.  Alas, it proved to have more disadvantages than advantages – cars didn’t slow down for him, people barged into him, he daren’t talk to anyone without sending them into hysterics. It ended, as I remember, with a group of workmen pounding him to death with their shovels.

Mike Nesbitt is the invisible man of northern politics. Not that he can’t be seen, but  when you see him, for all his TV skills, his words sort of glide past the listening point of your consciousness.  Something of the same could be said for his party: they’re wispy, shadowy, a kind of ghostly DUP.  So when Mike got a chance the other day to become visible, he grabbed it. “My party is quitting the Executive!” he said, and we all gasped. He exists after all! “We mightn’t amount to much but we’re going to pull the house down.” Suddenly the invisible man is in sharp focus.

The reason hitherto-invisible Mike is quitting is because…hold on a minute, I have check what he said, the reason isn’t that obvious…Ah. Now I have it.

He’s not actually going to quit the Executive just yet, his party has to have a meeting. And it won’t actually be him that’ll quit the Executive, it’s his colleague Danny Kennedy. And his party won’t actually quit the Assembly either – no, Virginia, not because they’d lose  those lovely salaries. Danny Kennedy is being pulled because “Sinn Féin have no credibility and we have no trust and without trust we have nothing”.  Which is maybe overstating it a bit: even without trust, you still have those yummy salaries. “The situation can be fixed”  Mike went on, “but we need some clarity about the IRA and its command structure”. So Mike and Co are walking but not right now. The situation is dire to the point of nothingness, but at the same time it can be fixed. If Mike continues to string the oxymorons together so stylishly, he’ll be an impressive candidate for a senior post in the PSNI.

So what is ex-invisible Mike up to? As I say, he’s making himself and them visible, because …Right first time, Virginia. There’s an election coming, stupid. All eyes now turn to the highly visible DUP. Will they follow Mike’s lead and walk, or would that look too much as if they were followers? On the other hand, they might grab that empty UUP seat in the Executive and make it their own.

Time, as they say, will tell. But it’s just possible that the DUP could use this occasion to get rid of an encumbrance they have: Peter Robinson. OK, he’s their leader, but there’s all that Iris stuff and the heart attack and…why not take the opportunity to have him eased into the House of Lords, and clear the electoral decks with a real leader like Nigel Dodds at the helm? Then the DUP could get down to the serious business of finishing eating up the UUP and  showing those odious Shinners who’s  boss about here.

Meanwhile the rest of us can go on staring at those unionist paramilitary murals and thinking that if you don’t have trust, you have nothing.

27 Responses to Mike Nesbitt: How To Be Visible

  1. Sherdy August 27, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    You’re right, Jude, that book was authored by H G Wells, as we can see printed on the book cover below the title.
    As far as Mike Nesbitt’s trust is concerned, should we trust him?
    Last year, of course during the mad month of July, talks at Stormont collapsed and the unionists: DUP, UUP, TUV, OO, PUP and UPRG were pictured sitting together planning their ‘graduated response’.
    So all unionists are inextricably linked to the loyalist killer gangs (who have not decommissioned) and happily work with them to try to bring back the Protestant state for Protestant people.
    I for one, would certainly not trust Nesbitt, as I did not trust him when he was a victims’ commissioner and seemed to only see loyalist victims.

  2. Neill August 27, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    This will surprise you Jude but I actually agree with the tone of your blog!

    Do Unionist parties do anything about Loyalist Paramilitaries no not a single thing indeed Tara Mills BBC interview with Nesbitt absolutely skewered him about his close links and meetings with Loyalist groups that are still killing and extorting people in the unionist community and Nesbitt makes no comment about this.

    What we have to do now is close down parrmilitary groups be they loyalist or republican ceasefire or not they have to been gone and proven to be gone the criminality has to be gone until this happens no real movement will be able to take place.

    Everybody here has to get their house in order here better sooner than later.

    • Jude Collins August 27, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

      Neill – I feel faint. I. think. I . agree. with. every. word. you. sa……(collapse of stout party in corner)

    • Ryan August 27, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

      Neill…..I was on the verge of joining Jude in the corner after reading your comment. Its the first comment you wrote that I ever agreed with….I hope its not the last, either, I really do.

      However, do I ever see an end to Unionist or Republican groups? realistically speaking: No. Not this decade anyway, maybe the next though.

      As BBC reporter Tara Mills pointed out to UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt last night: political parties, ALL political parties, have to stop being hypocrites. Unionism cant be seen being in an uproar at Republican paramilitaries while on the other hand sharing platforms at Twaddell and sitting down with Loyalist paramiliaries. And yes, I would say exactly the same if Sinn Fein were sharing platforms and sitting down with violent dissident republicans, it would be completely hypocritical of SF’s message of peace and reconciliation.

  3. Séamus Ó Néill August 27, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    So the party initially responsible for all the gerrymandering, bigotry , hatred and sectarian racism from the foundation of the ” 6 County Enigma ” is trying to outwit another party founded on bigotry , hatred and sectarian racism that also (along with themselves) was irrefutably responsible for starting 30 odd years of bloody mayhem. There was NO IRA then and there is No IRA now. They are allegedly pulling out of the Executive !!! This massive mind-blowing gesture , if it happens at all , will mean that their salaries will keep going…..they’re not pulling out of the Assembly , well you can’t sign on the dole , what with all these welfare cuts and everything .So nothing will change ,we will still have to listen to their hypocritical whinging etc etc……give me strength

  4. Belfastdan August 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    Mike is very particular about who he has a problem with. After all it was just over a year ago when he was rubbing shoulders with the “political” representatives of the UVF and the UDA announcing the “graduated response”. Yes it seems Mike has no problem sharing the limelight with the representatives of drug dealers, extortionists and sectarian murderers, but maybe, despite his journalistic training, he was unaware of all that!

    Besides the point don’t you think he is looking more and more like David Trimble?

  5. Iolar August 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    The wheel has fallen off the ‘graduated response’ given the evidence of another serial walk out at Stormont accompanied by demands for ‘clarification’ about the ‘clarity’ of the Chief Constable’s comments. This from the same Mr Nesbitt who advised us that he was tantalisingly close to a successful outcome on the Haass talks before some individuals without electoral mandates decided otherwise. Some command structures and evidence of paramilitary links to the security forces did not appear to trouble the leaders of the OUP, past and present.

    One individual did not mince his words about another unionist u turn. A cheerful butcher interviewed on 26 August, articulated the fact that for most people the demise of Stormont appeared irrelevant in the context of the price of a school uniform and the cost of living. As we face into a winter of discontent, street lighting and visibility on roads does not appear to feature in Mr Nesbitt’s list of priorities. No, he desires an ‘independent quango’ to oversee the PSNI. How would such a quango be funded? I thought there was ‘no more money.’ I guess it is a measure of progress that Mr Nesbitt prefers to lead his followers into an opposition that does not exist which is better than up a hill to wave gun licences in the air. I wonder what the butcher would make of an anticipated demand from the DUP designed to disenfranchise a significant number of voters in the north of Ireland? Invisible men and faceless men reacted violently to peaceful demands for votes, houses and jobs in the past. Their reactionary efforts will meet with a similar fate now and in the future given the resolve of the majority of citizens determined to establish peaceful coexistence based on equality and the impartial administration of justice on the island of Ireland.

  6. Freddy Mallins August 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    Jude, I think this one is going nowhere for Unionism. The Chief Con and T. Villiers have already said they accept that Sinn Fein is indeed committed to exclusively peaceful means. Nesbitt knows this. It really doesn’t matter about the IRA. Sinn Fein have effectively disowned them. It seems The UUP always wanted to go into opposition and this is their opportunity. It’s nothing to do with the murders. Power sharing is here to stay in whatever form. Unionism is going to have to live with it.

  7. Perkin Warbeck August 27, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    The part of the Invisible Man, Esteemed Blogmeister, was played earlier this week by The Woodman down here in the Free Southern Stateen.

    That happened on Morning Ireland, the flogship programme on RTE when the other Gerry (Kelly) was up for interrogation earlier this week. This absence of The Woodman caused Perkie’s inner masochist no little concern. One need not have worried.

    Not only was Cathal Mac Coille (mar is e ata ann !) back but the great hack-whacker was back to his scintillating self-obsessed. Meaning, it is not what The Woodman actually asks when he is grinding that axe of his but, of far more import, how he grinds it and with whom.

    And this morning was as definitive an exhibition of the Woodman’s wondrous versatility as one is liable to have the pleasure of experiencing. For starters, it was he who got The Big Gig while his lady assistant, the Lizzie Borden on duty, got to do the lesser tasks.

    This Big Gig this morning consisted of ‘tackling’ Jeffrey Donaldson first and then after the break, raising the hackles Pearse Doherty.Interviewing the one, interrogating the other.

    Different folks, different strokes, to coin a cliche. With the DUP man it was obvious that The Woodman had brought along the equivalent of his rubber-bladed axe. it told in the tone of The Woodman’s voice: deferential, soothing, semi-apologetic. But above all, grateful.

    As in: ‘Thanks awfully for condescending to talk to us down here on the opposite side of the Black Pig’s Dyke,sir, but be assured we are four square on your side where it counts’.

    A whimper rather than the normal snarl, as becomes a lap-dog being patted on the head. Call it the Mutt and Jeffrey show. At one stage of the interrogation, oops, interview the line went – (gulp) – dead. For one awful moment one thought that the condescending Jeffrey had pulled the plug.

    Was it because The Woodman had momentarily omitted to invest the necessary grovel into his gravelly voice? Alas, when the line was restored some moments later the reason was put down to the self-explanatory ‘technical fault’ by a clearly relieved Woodman.

    The Knight in Shining Armour aka Jeffrey Donaldson put this listerner in mind of a Stephen King (no, not that one) movie called (gulp)’The Shining’. A key scene of which involved Jack Nicholson rampaging down the empty corridors of a vast hotel with an axe in his hand, bellowing: ‘Heeeeeeeeere’s Cath-al !’

    It was the name of the hotel however rather than any splintering of a particular bedroom door which put that marvelous horror movie in mind.

    That would be, erm, The Overlook Hotel.

    For The Woodman spent most if not all the ten minute slot ……overlooking. Many murders, but one will suffice, the one which caused Perkie’s outer eyebrows to arch in the manner of a proverbial Proscenium. The murder involving a bladed weapon, no not a woodman’s axe but, erm, a samurai sword.

    The change in both the weapon of choice and tone of voice of The Woodman after the break was noticeable in the second interview, oops, interrogation.

    . ‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in
    Not by the hair of your chinny, chinny chin?
    Well then I’ll huff and I’ll puff
    And I’ll smash your door in !’.

    After that it was all axe-smash, splintered timber and The Woodman back to his normal Morning Ireland mode.

    The tone?

    Certainly no more the discarded tone of the lap-dog persona, having served its crafty and useful purpose. Call it the, erm, wolf tone.

    The Woodman, who played The Invisible Man earlier in the week, was back to his hack-whacking Audible best..

  8. giordanobruno August 27, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    It seems clear the Ulster Unionists have jumped too quick, when there is insufficient evidence to connect Sinn Fein to whoever did these killings.
    Although I quite like the idea of seeing opposition parties in Stormont, more thorns in the rose garden like Jim Allister, I don’t think they are doing it for the right reason at this time.
    Returning to my point that it would be nice to see you address yourself to how Sinn Fein might deal with certain issues, what should they be doing now to resolve this situation.?
    Should they be talking to the PSNI and explaining exactly how they know the PIRA had nothing to do with this,for example?
    They have a responsibility to the electorate to do that surely.

    • Jude Collins August 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

      Not for the first time I find myself agreeing with you,gio…I think there are a number of points, the PSNI explaining how they know who did and didn’t do these killings. And since they impact particularly on SF, they’re the ones who’re most entitled to an explanation. Mind you, anyone who cares about responsible policing should be disturbed about ambiguous sayings that sound like someone talking out of the two sides of their mouth at once. The degree to which they’ve said the IRA dun it has caused all the flying feathers in the coop; the degree to which they’ve said it was AAD and other criminal elements suggests they DON’T think the IRA did it. We need a yes or no; and if a yes, evidence please.

  9. ANOTHER JUDE August 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    For a man who spent years on the tv, Mike`s voice does tend to send me to sleep, I think it`s because I can`t make up my mind about him, is he a reformer who recognises the need for the Unionist parties to reach out to the Catholics, or is he someone who hankers back to the `good old days`, when being leader of the party meant you were the Prime Minister of the sick counties, guaranteed to meet the Queen at least once a year? Portrait hanging in Stormont, maybe a statue, with a hospital or bridge named after you. Maybe even a whole new town? Mike exudes arrogance, he has that `born to rule` look about him, that`s it, Mike was just born too late, as the song had it.

  10. sarah m August 27, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    What are the chances of a having a referendum that stipulates if a party pulls out of negotiations, the Executive, etc. etc. that said party and office holders will cease collecting their salaries? If a referendum on the peace process was possible north and south, and a referendum on gay marriage in the south was possible for a vote what would it take to make something like this happen? I would imagine the salaries could be put to much better use given the Tory cuts to the budget.

  11. Broc August 27, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    With the UUP and now the DUP threatening in one way or another to pull out of Stormont do they not realise the only alternative under the Good Friday Agreement is rule by joint authority? Imagine that; a union jack and tricolour side by side up on the hill…

    • paddykool August 27, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

      Here is the question….. Knowing as we all do that the unionist parties have been thrashing about for an excuse to huff out of the Executive…why has the Chief Constable decided to drop this bombshell? Timing…Peter and Marty are both offside with nary a sqeak or a toot! No hard evidence on the table either.Not so far anyway.Meanwhile TV Mike Nesbitt…in the absence of any real proof has decided to make a cheap stunt and has regaled us with a Norneverland political cliché…We are so used to this kind of lacklustre excuse for rational thought that we are beyond insulted. We are bored with it to the brink of inanity.For Chrissakes give us something new and fresh to bite on you bloody dullards!!!

    • Ryan August 27, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      I think everyone deep down knows Joint Rule is the only thing that will truly work. Of course I would prefer Irish Unity but I have the common sense to realize that would be completely unacceptable to the Unionist community at present.

      Some would argue too that Joint Rule would be completely unacceptable to the Unionist community but there’s the Nationalist community’s views to take into account here, not just Unionisms. Joint Rule would meet somewhere in the middle for both sides, I can see moderate Unionists learning to live with it knowing that Irish Unity would be much more likely if they reject Joint Rule.

      With the change in demographics, with the current agreements, etc there is a limited amount of patience the British Government can have with Unionism and they have proven many times, like at the Anglo-Irish Agreement in the 1980’s, that the British Government is greater and stronger than combined Unionism. Despite massive rallies of hundreds of thousands, resignations, threats of violence, threats even of civil war, etc the British Government faced down Unionism and enforced the agreement. I can see them doing the same with Joint Rule if it comes to that.

      That’s my take on it anyway.

    • Emmet August 28, 2015 at 7:14 am #

      Maybe it is time to say no democratic solution can be found within the 6 counties. Joint authority might be the best thing now. Unionists always deflate my optimism; maybe we are foolish to ever have thought Unionist could peacefully co-exist. The Dail and Westminster should step in and govern. Only problem is Westminster don’t really care about their own people, never mind Irish people, and Ireland’s government are much the same. Still it is something Sinn Fein should now discuss (they are the only party that will still exist in that circumstance). We should stop Unionist bully tactics and take stronger action- Sinn Fein will get more respect by stopping their constant outreach to bigots.

    • ben madigan August 28, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

      to Broc, Emmet and Ryan The Mirror has always said joint Authority/sovreignty was the only way out of this political morass in NI .
      here’s the latest post on the topic https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/joint-authoritysovreignty-in-ni-faq/

  12. Gavin August 27, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    The danger of this move for the UUP is that they have not considered the views of the broader nationalist community. If they bring down Stormount on such a flimsy pretext, it will like the old ‘don’t want a taig around the place’ narrative. If it makes nationalists angry enough to actually go back to the polls, it could reverse poor nationalist turnouts and alter the power balance in any future assembly.

  13. Ryan August 27, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    Mike Nesbitt always appeared to me as a moderate. I remember him presenting the news on UTV in the 1990’s as a kid. Obviously I wasn’t paying attention but he was always a familiar face. When he became the leader of the UUP I honestly thought he’d be another Basil McCrea and I actually thought, at last, there’s hope for Unionism and Nationalism genuinely reconciling with his leadership. How wrong I was. This hope was very quickly dashed by Mike.

    Mike’s leadership seems concentrated on dragging the UUP back 30 years. His performance on debates on the eve of the General Election in May was on par with Jim Allisters. His constant bringing up Sinn Fein’s past (all the while ignoring Unionism’s own past, including that of his own party that he leads) to point score when he himself was backed into corners with questions. It all actually made the DUP seem moderate and THAT is saying something.

    Mike may have did well in the General Election, with his pact he took a seat from Sinn Fein (which everyone knows was due to SDLP standing but it will be won back again) and even took one from the DUP, but will it be long term success for the UUP under his leadership? a revival even? I doubt it. Hes now engaging in a battle with the DUP, a battle of who can be the most bitter and anti-Sinn Fein, a battle he will most certainly lose. No one can out-bitter the DUP, Gregory Campbell and Nelson McCausland will see to that.

    At long last a Unionist leader was confronted on their hypocrisy involving Loyalist paramilitaries yesterday (and I hope its only the beginning of these confrontations). Poor Mike was that Unionist leader. He was on BBC Newsline when he was confronted by BBC reporter Tara Mills on his hypocrisy. Mike and the UUP are in an uproar over the mere alleged existence of the PIRA but yet Mike himself sat with Loyalist paramilitaries. He sat with PUP Leader Billy Hutchinson who randomly murdered two 19 year old Catholics on their way to work and who Billy to this day tries to justify his murderous acts by saying the usual Loyalist nonsense that they had “intelligence” that they were IRA members while even the RUC said at the time the two teenagers weren’t. Being a Catholic alone was enough “evidence” that a person might be an IRA man, according to the likes of Billy. Mike knows the horrendous acts Loyalist paramilitaries got up to in the past, he even REPORTED on the news the acts they got up to but yet he sits with them, supports them at Twaddell and even shared the stage with them.

    Be in no doubt, Mike leaving the executive has more to do with Unionist rivalry than the PIRA. He’s, again, trying to appeal to the most extremist of Unionist/Loyalists, the type who want Stormont gone. Do I believe he’ll ever revive the UUP and bring back the numbers of MP’s/Representatives they use to have? No, the DUP will remain, by far, the largest Unionist party for many years to come, that’s if NI even exists in years to come.

    Here’s the video of Mike being confronted by Tara Mills on BBC, a MUST WATCH:

    • paddykool August 28, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Yes Ryan for someone seasoned in the dark arts of broadcasting , TV Mike plays very poorly in interview. Even Nolan had him rattled to the point of anger this morning .It really brought out the imperial arrogance that anyone should deign to ask such hard questions. His stunt is as transparent as a freshly dressed window- pane. it’ll be enough for the DUP now to huff off the stage. They are in a corner and he’s giving them an exit too. I think we’ll have an executive crash soon.

  14. Emmet August 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Mike Nesbitt has always been been a bit extreme; he was the person that really turned me off the media. He could never hide his blatant bias. For me he was exposed as a fool of the highest order when he started to argue with an English MP. He was trying to argue with the MP because he pointed out N. Ireland was not part of Britain. You could tell the MP was thinking ‘why are you so ignorant and how does someone like you present the news’ meanwhile Mike was going red in the face with fury and after the interview was saying how stupid the MP was to the viewers.

    • Neill August 29, 2015 at 7:20 am #

      There is enough in his background to suggest he does not have the qualities that would make him a decent human being let alone a political leader.

  15. ANOTHER JUDE August 28, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    The Unionist party was born through violence and the threat of violence, it has never been a `normal` democratic political party. In every decade it`s `leaders` have been seen marching about with various loyalist muscle men and that`s fair enough but they really should desist this nonsense about their being a proper political party.

  16. michael c August 28, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    UTV news during the troubles took a strident pro Unionist line and you will notice that it was the BBC’s Tara Mills that tore him to shreds.There is still an impression that UTV are a tad soft when interviewing their “oul mucker” Mike.Indeed should their not be a stipulation that anyone who worked alongside him at UTV news be not allowed to interview him.

    • Neill August 29, 2015 at 7:18 am #

      Are you mad UTV actively despise him for being an arrogant and ignorant sod.